American soldiers wear X-ray vision sunglasses and air-conditioned clothing. At least that’s the word in the Iraqi dessert, according to various news sources.
“With those glasses, he can definitely see through women’s clothes,” said engineering student Samer Hamid of an American soldier, according to the New York Times. “It makes me angry. We are afraid to take our families out on the street.”
American soldiers have taken to letting Iraqis try on their sunglasses. When the Iraqis acquire no X-ray vision, some have asked soldiers to “turn it on.”
The rumors, amid cultural gaps and media distrust, are hard to kill.
“There is fluid circulating throughout the underwear,” Hamid told the Times. “I am not sure of the exact mechanism, but we all know the Americans have very sophisticated technology.”
The technology may be sophisticated, but it’s not as sophisticated as the locals apparently believe.
“The capabilities of our technology have been overexaggerated by the local population. It’s like Superman—we swoop in and do these amazing things,” U.S. Army Capt. Cory Davis told the Christian Science Monitor. “When they find out it is not true, it just blows their socks off.”
Other urban legends, according to the Times, have American soldiers groping Muslim women at checkpoints, drinking around mosques and using pages from the Quran for toilet paper.
The legend of X-ray vision sunglasses, however, seems to be one of the most common.
“Since we all wear sunglasses all the time (obviously), the Iraqi people think we are so high-tech, they think all of our sunglasses have X-ray vision,” wrote Specialist Neil Schmidt to his cousin, columnist Brad Schmidt of the Oregon Daily Emerald. “It is the funniest thing when you look at them, especially women, as they try to cover themselves or turn away.”